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17-Year-Old Invents Low-Cost Mine Detector Using Sound Waves

Clever Girl


I’d say I’m sick of hearing about teenagers doing more than I’ll ever accomplish in my entire life but I can’t do it, honestly. These kids are amazing. The latest? Seventeen-year-old Marian Bechtel. She’s a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search thanks to a low-cost device she created that can detect land mines using sound waves. Yup, like I said, amazing. 

If the Intel Science Talent Search sounds familiar, that’s because we’ve written about it on The Mary Sue before. Specifically Samantha Garvey, the homeless teen who was also vying for a spot in the finals. Garvey unfortunately didn’t make it to the last round but Bechtel did thanks to her invention.

“Using sound waves to determine where explosives are located, the device is a standard metal detector equipped with microphones and a seismic vibrator,” writes the Huffington Post. “Her idea came about when she played certain notes on the piano and noticed that the strings of a nearby banjo would vibrate — she then decided to investigate whether the same principle could be applied to detecting landmines in warzones.”

Well, yes, *cough* that would have been my assumption in the same situation as well.

Bechtel’s parents work in geology and she placed some of her inspiration for the idea on them as well. “Years ago they got connected with an international group of scientists working on a project called RASCAN, developing a holographic radar device for detecting land mines,” she told MSNBC. “I met all of these scientists and talked with them about their work and the land mine issue. I was really touched and inspired by what they had to say.”

This young lady didn’t walk away with the grand prize of the contest, that honor went to Nithin Tumma for his breast cancer research, but don’t be surprised if you see Bechtel’s work being developed down the road. Listen to the highly intelligent teen speak about her impressive project.

(via Huffington Post)

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Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."